Like coming off a motorway and finding yourself suddenly in a 30mph zone, leaving the demands, mental stimulation, pressures and deadlines of my job was bound to be an adjustment. But it’s also forced me to face up to myself, unshielded from the work role, my thoughts and feelings no longer subsumed beneath the something else that is career.
Also, I like to get things done, or rather, I like things to be done so I write lists and worry about doing things, even if I don’t always get around to getting that much done. I feel an urge to have things done as soon as possible, even if I don’t usually have the wherewithal or motivation to actually do them. Plus, in the heat, you are lucky if you get one thing done a day.
So here I am, in paradise, worrying about getting things done. The most important thing is the writing, so I’ll talk about that. Obviously I have this blog, and that kind of takes care of itself. I write when I have something to say, and post when it is finished. In between I try, and mostly succeed, to not worry about it too much. On top of that, I am writing a book with my husband about how we got here (decluttering, shedding attachments, mental leaps and matrix obstacles) and about what happens and what we learn about ourselves during our year in South East Asia. So far so good, right?
We get up early, have a walk on the beach before it gets too hot, then retreat to the veranda/indoors until the evening, with the exception of possibly going out for lunch (which I managed yesterday, my first eaten-in-India masala dosa!) or to get snacks. So plenty of time for writing, except that the heat slows everything down, plus I have only just got better from being ill. But the biggest obstacle to it all, as usual, is my own mind.
I’ve been putting myself under pressure, thinking I have to write this book, try and get it published, finish chapter one as soon as I can so we can get onto chapter two about being in India before we’ve been here too long and forgotten things… Thinking I have to make it a success, to fulfill the destiny of this adventure, to justify it, and to secure us financially. So no pressure there then. No wonder writing chapter one began to feel like a chore. This demonstrates what a brain can do: cause anxiety about nothing, when one is ensconced in paradise with nothing at all to worry about.
So after a grounding chat with my husband over breakfast this morning, this is where I am at now: We have a boat to come back to in the UK, overheads are low so we both only need to work maybe three days a week each, I can sign up to agencies and just do whatever, a variety, so as not to get sucked back into the workplace matrix/politics. That plan is fine. As for this year, this is budgeted for, so I do not need to earn any money or worry about earning any money this year. I can just… wait for it… relax and enjoy myself. And write. Write for fun, write when I want to, write how and what I want. Write the book, write the blog. Write without expectation or pressure. Write nothing at all some days.
But mostly I will write, of course. As Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat Pray Love, my long time personal bible) says, having a creative mind is like having a border collie for a pet. If you don’t give it something to do, it will find itself something, and you may not like what it finds. (This is probably why I have OCD, anxiety, etc etc etc. There’s no easy answer though, because even when I do keep my mind occupied with writing, I am still capable of getting anxious about that.)
And of course I am still processing what it all means: Selling the house, packing in my career, abandoning everything and just going off… It’s not about going travelling, not really. Or rather, the travelling is a tool. It gets me away, breaks me away from my old life, from family, and when I return I will be living in a new area quite far away, far enough that no family will ever come and visit probably.
It’s not as if my family was bad. It’s not as if my life was bad. In fact it was good by any standard, and way, way better than I would have envisioned as a suicidal teenager or a freakish, teased child. But, and here’s the but: It wasn’t really me, or it wasn’t me any more, and the only way I could be me was to get right away from my family; to do something so big and so different that I would become unrecognisable, to them and even to myself.
My husband took two Tuk Tuk rides to find a pharmacy for me, and came back with strong antibiotics, gut flora and my thyroid meds, all over the counter, for around £5 altogether. I started feeling better from the first tablet. Antibiotics are good and strong here, I think. My doctor in the UK could only give me three months’ worth of thyroid medication, so I have to buy it while I am out here. I have a laminated copy of my prescription to keep with my UK issued meds (which are labelled with my name), to show when entering countries, especially Thailand. I will keep my UK prescription meds for customs and buy and use local meds when I am inside a country for any length of time.
After drinking ginger, lemon and honey tea, and toast and honey whilst I was ill, now I am better, I am on ginger and hot water, mint tea, normal black tea, no honey or sugar in tea, no honey on toast, back to being a proper vegan and to taking care of my teeth.
My capabilities are returning: I have gone from unable to even think about moving and the journey to Hampi, to talking about Vietnam, Japan, the whole trip. I am inconsistent, emotional. Yesterday evening we went out to dinner at a local, simpler place and had a good talk and reconnected. Talking about capabilities, fears, managing my boom and bust cycle.
So it’s good, we are staying here until Saturday night, almost another week (so two weeks in Goa altogether- twelve nights in Agonda, eleven at this particular high up hut), so I can fully recuperate, get my strength back, and write chapter one (but in a joyful, no pressure kind of way, obviously!).
What I have been reading:
Only one thing, Kim Gordon’s (from Sonic Youth) autobiography. My favourite bits, paraphrased: I wanted to be an artist since I was five. If you track back/observe you can see what it is you are meant to be doing. (Visual) artists bemoaning that they can’t produce a piece of art that has the impact of a Kinks song. A lot of artists wish they could produce work that had as much impact as a good song. I don’t have the answer to that.
What I have been watching:
Only one thing, “Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise” on Netflix
Thank you very much for reading
Lots of love